Whether you want to thank your children for behaving properly or hope to change their negative habits, rewards can reinforce the behavior that you want them to continue. According to FamilyDoctor.org, the key to a successful system is to be consistent and offer a reward when you witness positive behavior. Although children love to earn tangible prizes, they appreciate intangible rewards also, which enable them to feel loved.
Do not offer a small prize every time your child demonstrates good behavior -- design a sticker chart that will enable him to work toward a reward. When he behaves properly, he will earn a sticker, which will reinforce this positive habit. For example, let your child know that he can earn a coveted toy, a trip to the zoo or a new DVD, if he earns a certain number of stickers. FamilyDoctor.org notes that you can also remove a sticker each time he behaves badly.
Time with You
Instead of offering a material possession as a reward for good behavior, give your child alone time with you -- particularly if he often competes with his siblings for your attention. Parents Connect notes that toddlers might appreciate additional bedtime stories, while elementary school-aged children might enjoy playing board games or video games with you. A day at the park, ice cream, or nights at the movies are meaningful rewards. You might hire a babysitter for your other children, and turn your cell phone off to devote all your attention to your child.
If you are using a reward system to recognize your teenager’s attempt to correct a bad habit, Parents Connect recommends offering a little independence as an incentive. If you nag your teen to stop texting friends, to start homework at a certain time or to turn off the TV because it is time for bed, reward her with the freedom to text as much as she wants or to stay up an hour later for a couple of nights when she demonstrates good behavior.
When using a reward system to teach your child good behavior, be sure he realizes you are recognizing his hard work and good choices and are not simply bribing him to complete a task. If you are trying to teach your child to work harder in school, reward his good study habits and not just his grades. MomsWhoThink.com notes that giving your child money for a good grade might make your child hesitant to try a challenging class if he fears losing the reward he knows he would have gotten by earning an “A” in the old class. By rewarding effort, your child will remember how satisfied he felt when you praised him to work harder.
- Photo Credit Andrew Olney/Photodisc/Getty Images